New Orleans New reports indicate that with a little more than a week before the President’s deadline, 30% or more of the healthcare.gov website is still being built. Currently though it is working much better, it is still unreliable, though the 800# along with paper applications are excellent alternatives for enrollment. Unfortunately, there are signs of something between despair and panic within the Administration leading to policy reversals that damage the program significantly, but hopefully not permanently.
President Obama bent to political pressure and gave an extension of one year for consumers to keep substandard and in many cases rip-off insurance plans in 2014, largely because the website was not allowing people to change to something better. Seven states, including California, have refused to allow this extension, and the reports are that some insurance companies, including Blue Cross in Florida, have indicated they either cannot or will not rescind their cancellations of the policies. California’s strategy seems to be working; since they are now signing up 2700 people per day, including 22% of that number from the so-called “young invincible” demographic that is so central in keeping actuarially costs in line.
Worse may be coming. A report in the Huffington Post indicated that the Administration is preparing to allow insurance companies to enroll people directly on their sites and approve the payment of subsidies based on income. Certainly this step, when and if taken, will accelerate enrollment, but it also will take away the consumer’s ability to shop for the best deals in the marketplace, since the insurance companies are selling their own products only and won’t and can’t give access to competitors. Once they hold the whiphand, I fear it will be very difficult for the Administration to get it away from them. I can already hear the cha-ching of political contributions going from the insurers to Congressmen to keep them in the middle of the mess.
There’s still time. Do yourself a favor. Get in touch with a navigator. Give www.healthcare.gov another shot in a couple of days. Some think Fridays are best. And, geez, call 1-800-318-2596, the operators are standing by 24/7, there’s no wait, so don’t be late! 800-318-2596.